Philadelphia School Officials Plead For More Money

Philadelphia School Officials Plead For More Money

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PHILADELPHIA -

With several budget clocks running out, Philadelphia school officials are once again pleading for more money.

Without the money, they say, schools that are barely hanging on will fall into chaos.

With final grades already in on this last week of the school year, Parkway Center City High School isn't exactly a beehive of activity.

However, take a look around and you get an idea of the 'new normal' for Philadelphia schools.

The building is 90 years old, cold in the winter and blisteringly hot come June. There is one full-time school police officer, one guidance counselor for nearly 600 kids and one part-time nurse. They are short textbooks and lost three teachers to lay-offs this school year and pushing average class sizes above 30 kids.

Karen Dunkley spent seven years at school district headquarters before becoming Parkway's principal this year.

"I think the conditions under which we have to operate are really intolerable," said Principal Dunkley.

School Superintendent Dr. William Hite sent a letter Tuesday to Governor Corbett, Mayor Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke, begging for 96-million dollars in additional funding, simply, “to maintain the status quo, which is wholly inadequate."

Hite was joined by School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green, who said school kids have already sacrificed enough, and that the city, state and teachers union must step up to the plate.

But with none of that money certain, the schools teeter along. Back at Parkway, 81 seniors are practicing for graduation. Eighty are preparing for college and one is preparing for the military.

However, their principal says they deserved a better education than the one they got.

"I'm wondering why we don't see this outcry that says, 'equity and access and excellence, now!'" said Principal Dunkley.

Those budget clocks are running out, city council, for example, will likely head to summer recess after this Thursday's meeting, with no indication they will add new funding to the pot.

In a statement in response to today's news conference, Council President Clarke suggested city lawmakers have already done plenty to fund the schools, and described the district's budget crisis as "self-inflicted."

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